Gestures are an integral part of effective presentaions. Rather than standing on the platform like a stuffed dummy, powerful public speakers know how to use their hands, eyes, and body movements to add power to the spoken word.
Here are five suggestions on how to use the body for effective presentations:
- Descriptive Gestures
Use descriptive gestures – gestures that describe size, shape, distance, location, etc.
Descriptive gestures produce two major benefits:
They keep the interest of the audience as you move your hands, arms, body, to describe what you are talking about
They enliven you, the speaker, and help raise your level of enthusiasm for your subject
- Emphatic Gestures
Use emphatic gestures – gestures that stress a key point, key word, or phrase.
Using the hands or fingers to point or in some other way emphasize a key thought should come naturally throughout the presentation.
One caution: be careful a particular emphatic gesture doesn’t become a mannerism. If done too often it loses its power.
You may need a friend or partner in attendance to look out for it and alert you if the gesture is becoming too frequent. Or video the presentation, play it back, and become your own critic, watching out for detracting mannerisms you may be unaware of when in front of an audience.
- Express Enthusiasm
Expressing enthusiasm through an animated delivery with a variety of facial expressions, gestures, and voice pitch contributes a great deal to effective public speaking.
Enthusiasm doesn’t mean a speaker has to jump around all over the platform. But through the feeling, intensity, and expressiveness of your presentation, the audience will walk out of there feeling conviction, glad they were there.
- Vary Enthusiasm
One caution with enthusiasm – don’t carry it on a high level all the way through your presentation. This will leave the audience feeling exhausted and detract from the effectiveness of your presentation.
There has to be a reason for your enthusiasm relative to the material. Match your enthusiasm with the points you want to stand out. If everything is presented at the same level of enthusiasm nothing stands out. The impact loses its impact!
- Use Your Eyes
Our eyes reveal much about us. If a speaker fails to look directly at the audience he or she may appear unsure, lacking in confidence, even lacking in conviction and sincerity.effective public speaking – eye contact
So practice good visual contact with your audience to be effective in public speaking. This includes looking around the body of the audience, not just fixing your eyes in one particular place.
In addition to browsing and scanning the audience, look at an individual and get eye contact for a few seconds and talk directly to that person. Then do the same with another individual in another section of the audience. Do this regularly during your presentation.
Mastering this skill will not only engage the attention of the audience but it will provide you with valuable feedback on how your presentation is being received as you take note of the expressions on the faces of those you are speaking to.
A truly animated delivery will set you apart as a public speaker. If you are alive with your subject as reflected in your body movements, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact, you will have the audience focused on everything you say. That’s what effective presentations are made of!